I served as Director of Programming for the SoundLab, which meant that I ran two projects. The USITT SoundLab Student Project (which I ran in partnership with Drew Dalzell) was a six-month long script analysis project using Caryl Churchill's Fen as the source text. Twenty-four students from around the country worked with mentors to read, analyze, and conceptualize a sound design for Fen. At the end of the project, six students were invited to take time during the conference to build their designs for an excerpt of the play in the SoundLab environment.
Concurrently, I also ran the SoundLab Professional Project, which was similar in scope. Three professional sound designers each took a portion of a different play, conceptualized a design, and had a chunk of time at the conference to install their design. While those designers were working, sound designer Brad Berridge and I hosted a real-time Iron Chef-style analysis of what the professional designers were doing, examining how they used the multi-channel system, how they strategized their designs, and how they organized their programming sessions in QLab. It was a terrific opportunity for the student designers to watch professionals work in real-time in a complex environment.
Student Kate Fraser and I have a conversation while she programs her design.
Dave Mickey, Elisheba Ittoop, and Brad Ward were the three professional designers.
Brad Berridge and I lead a conversation about while one of the pros installs their design.
After all nine designers had completed their programming, the designs were available for any SoundLab visitors to listen to in order to get a stronger understanding of how different designers each approach the same text. I also made recordings using a SoundField microphone of each piece for archival purposes. The SoundField makes a B-format recording, I've decoded into multiple formats for your downloading pleasure. You can download the work of these designers as stereo, 5.1, and b-format recordings:
Student Sound Designers:
Professional Sound Designers:
I want to thank the all of the sound designers and USITT folk who helped make these SoundLab projects happen. This was an extraordinary amount of work, and I'm appreciative of everyone who pitched in! Special thanks also go to the UC Irvine actors who voiced the roles, Sam French, who licensed us Churchill's Fen, and Figure 53, who provided the student designers with temporary licenses of QLab.